A very useful Web-based tool called the Global Powder Metallurgy Database now exists to search properties for nearly 2,500 powder metals. The database has been created by parts manufacturers and powder producers across the world through three trade associations: the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF), the European Powder Metallurgy Association (EPMA), and the Japan Powder Metallurgy Association (JPMA). You an find detailed mechanical, physical and fatigue properties for materials identified by ISO or MPIF code. Materials include structural steels, stainless steels, soft magnetic alloys, bearings, and nonferrous. Once you discover grades with acceptable properties, the Web site guides you to specific contacts at suppliers. Data can be downloaded as Excel or FEA software files. Data for metal injection molding was added last year. Use of the database is free, but registration is required.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
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